Cebu News

Ex-rebels receive livelihood assistance from DOLE-7

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — An association of livestock farmers in Danao City, Cebu received P480,000 in livelihood assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7) to start a hog raising business.

The amount was received by rebel returnees, Meera and her husband Lito (not their real name), in behalf of the Lawaan Livestock Workers Association. The former rebels thanked the government for the capital to start their business. The association has 16 members with the couple leading them.

Meera said she joined the New People’s Army (NPA) when she was 18 years old. At 24, she got married with her husband Lito, also an NPA cadre.

They were living like nomads fighting the government for what they believed then was right until Meera gave birth to their first child in 2005. Meera said she started to worry for their safety and the future of their child and began having thoughts of quitting from the rebel movement.

Soon after giving birth to two more children, Meera made up her mind and leave the NPA for good.

“Naghuna-huna   ko   alang   sa   kaugmaon   sa   among   mga   anak.   Unsa   kahay  mahitabo nila kung naay mahitabo namo,” said Meera, recalling the several encounters with the military that she had participated in the past.

“Sa dalaga pa ko walay kulba. Sa dihang naa mi mga anak, pirmi kong kulbaan alang  sa mga bata. Samtang kabahin pa mi sa grupo, wala gyuy future ang among family tungod kay pinangita man mi sa balaod,” she added.

Meera said her husband stayed with the NPA for a while after she quit but decided to join her and their children after much prodding and convincing from her.

“Dako namong pasalamat nga naay mga tawo nga andam nidawat namu ug balik. Ako gyud ning gi-ampo sa Ginoo nga magpuyo naming tunhay ug malinawon,” Lito said.

According to DOLE-7, the couple has completely detached themselves from the rebel group since 2009 and had since been living a normal life. Lito was offered a job as watchman at the public market. He now works as traffic enforcer in their locality.

However, his income could hardly make his family’s ends meet even with his wife’s help. According to them, the livelihood assistance from DOLE-7 is a blessing for them.

DOLE-7 regional director Lilia A. Estillore encouraged the couple and their members to take care of the fund entrusted to them by the government.

“Panindoton gyud ninyo ang inyong negosyo nga pamuhi og baboy especially now that we are promoting the lechon of Cebu,” Estillore said.

Meera was emotional as they received the check and thanked the people behind the processing of their application for livelihood assistance.

“Lipay kaayo mi. Salamat sa Ginoo. Amo gyud ning palambo-on ang among negosyo,” Meera said. — (FREEMAN)

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